Video Essays for MBA Admissions: What They Are, Why They Matter, and How to Create One

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In this day and age, video is everywhere. We watch videos on our phones, computers, and televisions. It’s no surprise that business schools are asking applicants to submit video essays as part of their application process. Why? Because video is a powerful medium that can be used to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, including non-verbal communication which is usually not possible in the case of a written essay.

In this blog post, we will discuss what video essays are, why they matter, and how to create one that will impress the admissions committee.

Video essay for MBA admissions

What are video essays?

A video essay is a short (usually one to two minutes long) video that applicants are asked to submit as part of their MBA application.

The purpose of the video essay is to give the admissions committee a chance to get to know the applicant on a personal level and learn more about their motivation for pursuing an MBA.

It also gives the admissions committee a chance to evaluate the non-verbal aspects as well as the verbal communication skills of the candidate, which hitherto was only possible to evaluate in an interview.

Why do business schools require video essays?

Business schools included video essays in the MBA application because they wanted more genuine responses from applicants, without the direct involvement of admissions consultants or other professionals. The admission committees of Rotman, Kellogg, and INSEAD have responded to why business schools require Video Essays as part of their application process.

According to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, which pioneered the video essay as part of the application process, the video essay allows the admissions team to screen for different aptitudes and competencies in the admissions process.

“The video essay provides students with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what they will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community — in an interactive way,” says the Kellogg MBA Admissions committee.

According to the Admissions Committee at INSEAD, the video should provide students with a unique opportunity to share their passions, motivations, and who they are. The Admissions Committee is looking for an authentic view of the applicant as a person, to see how a student thinks on their feet and communicates ideas.

Typically, the school will provide one or more questions and some time to think about them (around 30 – 60 seconds per question), after which the student is expected to provide a recorded answer to the school.

Types of MBA Video Essays

As part of the MBA application, applicants may be asked to submit two types of videos.

Record and submit the video on the business school’s platform

Following application submission, the school will send an e-mail with a link to record the video on an online platform. Applicants should use their personal computers to record their responses to specific questions. You may be asked one of two types of questions:

Specific questions from the school’s application instructions: In such cases, you will have the opportunity to prepare for the question ahead of time. The question can range from inquiring about your career to introducing yourself to the admissions committee.

Random Questions: Each student will be asked a random question by the school. You will be given a time limit in which to think about and respond to the questions. You should prepare some personal situational stories that are relevant to various topics.

Record offline and submit the video

Schools such as MIT Sloan require applicants to submit a video statement on the topic specified in the application instructions. The majority of the school prefers single-take (no editing) videos that are no longer than one minute long.

Some business schools do not compulsorily require a video essay as part of the application process. However, as a best practice, you should ideally try to complete an optional video essay. If you are given the option of submitting a video essay as part of your application, you should do so. The optional video essay allows you to showcase your personality as well as your motivation to pursue an MBA program.

Business School Specific Video essays

Kellogg

The adcom has read your essays and resumes, and now they want you to put it all together in a video. Show them who is behind all of those carefully crafted words. The video will include three questions, each designed to help you showcase your personality and share some of the experiences that led you here today.

Here are some things to think about as you prepare to finish this section:

  • Video essays must be submitted 96 hours after the deadline.
  • After you submit your application and payment, a link to your video essay will appear on your application status page.
  • An internet-connected computer with a webcam and microphone is required.
  • The video should take about 20-25 minutes to complete, including setup time.

Video essay 1: Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.

– Consider this your opportunity to share what you would want your future Kellogg classmates and our admissions committee to know about you. What makes you, you? What leadership qualities, personality traits, and accomplishments have you displayed in your personal and professional life that define you as the person you are?

Video essay 2: What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

– This is an intentionally broad question so you can answer honestly and meaningfully. We want to know why you’re pursuing an MBA and why you want to pursue it from Kellogg? You have to 

  1. Give a brief overview of your current experience, skills, and qualities 
  2. Mention your post MBA short term, medium-term and long-term career goals which should be aligned with your experience, skills, and qualities 
  3. Mention specific courses, clubs, competitions, placements, etc., or any other thing unique to Kellog that would help you achieve your post MBA career goals.

Video essay 3: This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.

Here, Kellog ad-com wants to get deeper insights into the personality traits and leadership qualities you have that will help you become a future leader. Hence, you should mention the challenge, how you overcame the challenge, what are the leadership qualities that helped you navigate the challenge, and finally what you learned and how you implemented the learning in another situation where you created a significant impact, which should be quantified if possible. 

Kellogg adcom tips

  • There are practice questions that you can answer as many times as you want to become acquainted with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience are intended to simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is a useful tool to help you feel prepared.
  • We encourage you to practice so that you are familiar with the format when it comes time to answer the official questions. You will not be able to redo your answers to the official video essay questions.

You will have 20 seconds to consider the question and up to one minute to respond.

Do you want to impress the MBA Adcom with your video essay?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

INSEAD

After completing your online application, the admissions committee will send you an email with a unique link to complete the video essay section. Each applicant will be asked to record their responses to four questions. The questions could be about your interest in INSEAD, teamwork, diversity, culture, or anything else. You will have 45 seconds to prepare each answer and 1 minute to record your answer after getting the question.

Before recording your answers, you can practice on the INSEAD online platform. There will be several questions available during the practice session, and you can practice as many as you need to feel comfortable. You can make an account on the internet platform and return at any time, with no limit on how many practice sessions you can do.

Advice from INSEAD’s adcom

  • We recommend recording your Kira videos with Microsoft Edge or Chrome for the best user experience.
  • You can practice as much as you want to prepare yourself. This will allow you to give sincere and authentic responses. The Admissions Committee is not informed about the practice questions.
  • Test your camera and microphone, then look at the camera as if you were speaking to the Admissions Committee.
  • Despite the fact that we require you to dress professionally or in business casual attire, the Admissions Committee will not pass judgement on your appearance or background.
  • You might wish to keep a notebook nearby to jot down your main points. You’ll have 45 seconds to prepare each response, followed by 60 seconds to share your response.

Yale SOM

After submitting your application and paying your application fee, you will be given access to the video questions. The video questions are not a replacement for the interview; rather, they are part of your MBA application.

Every candidate will be given a set of randomized, previously recorded questions asked by a member of the admissions team. No two applicants will be asked the same questions.

Yale SOM tips

Kristen Mercuri, Deputy Director of Admissions, shares a few tips with applicants:

  • First, know you’re going to be great! This is not a deal-breaker or maker. It doesn’t require any preparation beyond the practice tool you can access before you start your recordings. Don’t stress; we aim to set you up for success. 
  • One piece of advice for the recorded responses is to familiarize yourself with the 60-90 second time frame. You don’t want to feel rushed in your answer, and you also don’t want to only utilize 10 seconds. 
  • And finally, be sure you have a good internet connection and a quiet, private space. You’d be surprised how many ‘bloopers’ we see in the video questions due to an unexpected colleague, partner, or pet joining your session.

MIT Sloan

You must submit a video statement along with other documents as part of your MIT Sloan application. Unlike other schools, where you record the video in the admission portal, you can record and upload the video at your leisure on the MIT Sloan video statement portal.

The prompt is as follows:

Introduce yourself to your future classmates. Here’s your chance to put a face with a name, let your personality shine through, be conversational, and be yourself. We can’t wait to meet you!

Videos should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • No more than 60 seconds in length
  • Single take (no editing) 
  • Speaking directly to the camera
  • Do not include background music or subtitles

Tips for creating an outstanding video essay for MBA admission

MBA video essays are a great way to showcase your personality and MBA video essay tips can help you put your best foot forward. Here are the top 15 MBA video essay tips:

  1. Be natural and be yourself. The MBA video essay is an opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you on a personal level, so it is important to be genuine and authentic in your responses. Don’t try to memorize answers or regurgitate information from your resume; instead, focus on sharing stories and experiences that will give the admissions committee insight into who you are as a person. Writing pointers and then expanding them naturally while speaking would be a better technique than writing the entire answer and reading it verbally.
  1. Keep it short and sweet. The MBA video essay is not the time to give a long-winded speech; instead, focus on delivering a few key points in a clear and concise manner. The admissions committee wants to see that you can communicate effectively and efficiently, so don’t try to cram too much information into your MBA video essay.
  1. Practice, practice, practice. Before hitting “record,” take some time to practice your MBA video essay so that you feel comfortable and confident on camera. Record a few practice takes so that you can get used to the format and format of the questions
  1. Highlight your accomplishments: Share your successes and experiences that have helped shape who you are today. This is your chance to shine and show the admissions committee what you’re capable of.
  1. Tell a story: A well-told story will capture the attention of the admissions committee and give them a glimpse into who you are as a person. Share a personal experience or an anecdote that highlights your unique personality and perspective.
  1. Choose a quiet and well-lit location: Make sure you choose a location with enough light on your face and no background noise. There should be no background noise while recording the video. If at all possible, ask a friend or family member to keep an eye on the area while you conduct the interview.
  1. Recording accessories: Although most schools do not specify video output, it is recommended that you use a high-quality webcam and microphone when recording your video essay. If you believe your laptop’s webcam output is inadequate, use an external webcam to record the video. When selecting a microphone, ensure that your voice is clearly audible. You must record a sample video and evaluate its quality.
  2. Choose a simple background: When recording, it is best to use a single colour background. If there are too many elements behind you, the viewer’s attention will be diverted away from your presentation.
  1. Keep a notepad and a pen handy: Most essay questions will give you less than one minute to structure your thoughts before delivering your answer. Keep a notepad and a pen at the table to jot down the main points and supporting examples you want to deliver while answering.
  1. Dress for Success: The video essay is a professional video that serves as a “pre-interview” communication with the Admissions Committee. Dressing professionally is also important for the same reason.
  1. Avoid excessive movement: The video should be conversational, similar to a speech. As a result, you should avoid excessive gesturing and movement while recording your video essay.
  1. Speak clearly and with proper enunciation: Do not narrate the entire essay expressionlessly. Take enough pauses between sentences to emphasize your words and thoughts and persuade the admissions committee that you are a serious applicant. You must respond with a fluid tone and pitch that conveys your conviction and passion. Try practicing voice modulation which will prevent your speech from becoming monotonous and boring.
  1. Body language: It is an important aspect to consider during your video essay. Remember to sit up straight throughout the recording. The best way to identify issues with your body language is to film yourself answering some of the questions on your list and analyzing the results. Before sitting down for the final take, practice while correcting such errors to remove nervousness and nervous ticks.
  1. Position the camera: Avoid leaning forward or lowering your head to face the camera. Position the webcam at eye level so that you can answer with your head straight. When responding, always keep your gaze fixed on the camera. Film yourself answering a few of the questions on your list with a camera. Make sure your background, lighting, and outfit all look good.
  1. Smile for the camera: You aced the GMAT, crafted an impressive resume, obtained letters of recommendation, completed your entire application, and double-checked it. You completed all of the difficult checkpoints. There is only one mantra for video essays: be your best self. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy the experience. Keep a smile on your face as you respond to the questions.

By following these tips, you can create a strong video essay that will help you stand out from the rest of the applicants and improve your chances of being admitted to your dream business school.

If you’re looking for more help with your MBA application, be sure to check out our other blog posts on the topic. We cover everything from how to choose the right business school to what kind of experience you need to have in order to get admitted.

Do you want to impress the MBA Adcom with your video essay?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

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